Not our best week

Wednesday 19th April and we were up early for our planned trip to Lechlade. It was another lovely sunny day, and on the way stopped for water and sanitary necessities. We met another boat going downstream who totally put us off mooring in Lechlade, as they had removed their front cratch cover because cattle grazing in the field next to the moorings had apparently totally wrecked it. Anyway we decided we would see for ourselves when there.

Lechlade church

Our Nicholsons book showed that we could turn after the bridge at Inglesham so we ventured forth. Bad mistake. We had great trouble turning due to overhanging branches and sandbanks. How we never lost anything off the roof (including Izzy I’ll never know). Also managed to get temporarily grounded! We did give the gongoozlers a treat though I expect.

As far as we can go on the Upper Thames

So we reversed back to what looked like a winding hole and managed to turn eventually. We found a mooring without cattle but it was too shallow to get in comfortably. As we had had a very long day and were getting teasy by this point, we decided to carry on back to Kelmscott where we knew there were 48 hour moorings. We were very disappointed at missing visiting Lechlade. Needless to say we finished the day with a few glasses of red.

moored at Kelmscott

A lovely des res in Kelmscott village

We had missed an opportunity to visit Kelmscott manor (country home of William Morris). It is only open to the public on Wednesdays and Saturdays which fell outside the time we were there. Privately run with admission charge. So we went for a walk around the village on Thursday.

All of the elite houses are made of this Cotswold stone

carved frieze on one of the houses

It had rained for the first time since we left Napton on the Thursday morning, but it soon passed over and we had another sunny afternoon. We stayed 2 nights here as very tired after our mammoth day previously. In the evening we heard a bit of a commotion on our roof, only to find Mr and Mrs Mallard preening themselves on our solar panels! Friday and we headed back to the moorings before Rushey lock. It was easy to get on and off the boat without using crampons. Although my back has been okay, Charlie’s has now started troubling him. Probably all the scrabbling about on river banks. A few pictures follow of our travels along the river.

Above is the 13th century Radcot bridge, the oldest on the River Thames.

WW2 pillar box. Alot scattered along this area

iron footbridge

Back at Rushey lock we decided to stay the weekend as it was forecast fair. Lovely sunny weekend with lots of aeroplane activity.

military plane circling overhead

sunrise at Rushey locks

Monday and we were off again. This morning started with Charlie falling over on the bankside after catching his foot in a fender rope whilst preparing the boat for moving. It took the wind out of his sails, and now he has a sore chest as well as back. We ended up after Northmoor Lock, and before Bablock Hythe on another rough mooring; sharing this time with sheep.

our neighbours

Izzy wasn’t interested in the sheep, but was very interested in their pooh! So far on this trip I have seen my first swallows, many swans nesting, herons, terns, a mummy duck with 16 ducklings, and heard 2 cuckoo’s.

passing the very large holiday caravan park at Bablock Hythe

Another day of accidents when Charlie fell backwards on the stern after the rope slipped off the bollard in the lock. I’m getting very panicky about all these accidents; never had so many in one short trip. Luckily the only thing broken was his tea mug. The camera went flying but has survived. We moored at Swinford free moorings expecting to have to pay £5 for an extra night (24hr free). There were signs along this bank on the way up, but now (only 10 days later), they have all been blacked out! After we had moored we were chatting to a couple walking their dog, who it transpired owned the land and leased it to the local angling club. The reason the signs had been put up stating charges, was that a few boaters had been leaving their boats there for long periods of time; the anglers couldn’t get along the bank due to the boats; the boats were being moved on reluctantly, and someone has taken umbrage to this and defaced all the signs. They told us we would be ok to moor for a couple of days and not worry about the charge. Just as well as you can no longer read the contact details.

thunderstorm brewing at Swinford moorings

Yesterday afternoon we had some rain and thunder, and it was turning colder. The forecast had been for an arctic blast! A bit of a shock after all the sun we have been having. Today we walked into Eynsham, as Izzy needed her annual leptospirosis vaccination, and I had arranged it with the local vet there. Eynsham is another lovely Cotswold town with the buildings made in the characteristic stone of the area.

Eynsham town

Eynsham church. It was once a town of considerable importance.

Izzy was very brave having her injection, so I can tick that off the list now. It has been bitterly cold today although bright. Just as we are about to use our last bag of coal (thinking we may be ok now). The walk to and from Eynsham takes you over the Swinford Toll bridge built in 1777 and still taking tolls today. It is very busy with traffic. 5p per car, with the maximum being 10p for each axle of a lorry. There are a few shops here including a co-op, butchers, bakers and ironmongers. I topped up with a bit of fresh fruit, and we are now ready for the off again tomorrow; heading this time for the Middle Thames. We are both hoping the moorings will be better as neither of us has particularly enjoyed this trip. 40 miles to Reading.

Turning right before Oxford

To start this blog I’m starting with a few pictures from our travels between blogs.

A rather lovely sunset somewhere on the Oxford canal

On Saturday the 8th April we moved to Aynho, stopping on the way at a farm shop called the Pig Place.

Piggy Wiggies at the Pig Place farm shop

View from the Pig Place

We had always promised to stop here if we passed again and so we did. I didn’t need anything but purchased some sausages and eggs. Another beautiful day and we cannot believe how lucky we have been with the weather so far. Sunday was a particularly hot day, shame the forecast was for colder weather over the coming days. We moved again on Monday and stopped just before Dashwoods lock. Tuesday 11th we stopped en route where I could pick up a reasonable phone signal so I could arrange a Sainsbury delivery at Thrupp.

Doing the shopping!

with Izzy overseeing

It transpired we had no need to stop as when we reached Enslow the signal was excellent. Anyway shopping arranged for Thursday delivery. Wednesday 12th and we moved to Thrupp. The 7 day moorings were all taken, but we managed to moor outside the Boat Inn on a 2 day mooring which was handier for the shopping.

Famous for being in TV shows; Morse and Barging around Britain.

Charlie fancied a pub pint so we showered and went for one (or maybe 3). We decided to have lunch there and treat ourselves. We both had a seafood platter which turned out to be huge (despite being labelled as a light bite), and we could have shared one between us. Lovely whilst eating it, but I’m afraid took it’s toll on our stomach’s the next day! Sainsbury delivery was on time on Thursday and all the food squirelled away around the boat. We had a lovely walk around Thrupp in the afternoon with Izzy. Now I mentioned in the last blog that our old computer had decided to shut down and not work anymore (Charlie thinks it could be the graphics card, but maybe our guru can help when we return to Cornwall later in the year), therefore our GPS showing our travels isn’t operational. This is very frustrating as it is nice to look on the map and see where we are, how far away things are etc. I fathomed out how to apply this information manually via the programme whilst cruising so will give this a go.

Good Friday and off again this time turning right before reaching Oxford, and entering Duke’s cut and the River Thames. We have decided to travel the rural stretch to Lechlade first, as everyone we have spoken to has said how lovely it is, so here goes!!

Cormorant on the sign before a weir

Our first Thames river lock at Eynsham

Designated 24hr mooring at Eynsham, showing Swinford Toll Bridge in the background. 5p still in force for a car to pass.

It was a windy day, but being on the river we can open up the engine a bit. We also had a light rain shower in the evening which was the first since we left Napton. Easter Saturday and we were off again heading for anywhere that we could find a place to moor. We are used to canal moorings where it is easier to get on and off with the dog. The river however is a bit more of a challenge, as you can stop anywhere providing it doesn’t say “no mooring”. So we stopped at Newbridge and squeazed ourselves into a space.

Rough mooring

we couldn’t even put the plank out!

but we had a little ledge by the bow that we could get on and off with. Izzy wasn’t very impressed.

We had 2 nights here and the river traffic was very light considering it was Easter. I made another fender, and we had a lovely home cooked lamb lunch with pud (even if I say it myself). Another light rain shower today.

Yesterday we were on the move again. We have both decided this is the most boring journey we have done so far. Lovely and rural but very little else of interest. We are hoping Lechlade has a bit more to see. Shifford Lock was self service (all the locks we have done so far on the river have been manned by lock keepers). I proceeded to view the situation and noticed a narrowboat coming down, so I opened the gates for them. They stopped to top up their water, but we were in no hurry. In they came and at first they thought I was a volunteer lock keeper (probably because of my life preserver). I told them I wasn’t so the lady on board got off the boat to help. Charlie had noticed she had wrapped the rope around the bollard, and as they would be going down he pointed it out to her. Well, she then said very abruptly “I know about the ropes sir”. So we then shut up and let her get on with it. Charlie then offered for her to get back on her boat, but she declined although no gates were being shut as we were entering. Her husband then had to manouvre between us and a cruiser on the lock landing for her to get back onboard! No pleasing some people, and some are extremely rude. The cruiser shared the lock with us and had a lovely young couple onboard who had a 7mth old baby. They had bought their boat last year after spending holidays with parents on narrowboats. Rushey Lock was next and was manned so I could stay onboard. We left the lock and are now moored just around the bend on a slightly better mooring for getting off. En route I made another fender (getting good at this).

The following pictures are river wildlife

Greylag geese

Geese with chicks (just in view if you look hard enough)

A wren being busy on the opposite bank

And Izzy sound asleep whilst travelling.

A lovely sunny week

We moved from Fenny Compton to Claydon top lock. It was quite windy on route and we had fun and games through the narrow stretch that was Fenny Compton tunnel. Boats coming in the opposite direction with very few passing places, which made the journey slightly longer. My back luckily has been improving daily with rest and analgesia. We stayed at the top lock for a couple of nights. More fun and games through the five lock flight with the pounds being very low and boats running aground. We decided to get through early on Sunday to make sure we didn’t get stuck, and we stopped at Copredy.  

 This was pinned to a couple of the locks. Sounds plausible but it was April 1st on Saturday. After the 31st March the mooring rule has returned to normal and as there was a 24hr notice at Copredy we moved again on Monday to Banbury. Now in this area it is Easter holidays so we stayed at Castle Quays for one night only;having been caught out last year with young people thinking it funny to taunt boats and worse. We had a look round the shops whilst there. Since my last blog our old computer that runs our gps navigator programme just stopped working. The gps device won’t work on our new computer, so it’s looking like we are stuck in one place on the blog. Also our rotating chimney cowl fell off its perch and Charlie needs to pot river it back on! On Tuesday we moved to a more quiet spot on the Banbury fringe. On the way we passed the fuel boat Dusty so filled up and bought gas in the middle of the canal. Good job nothing came along!  

 This has been our mooring since Tuesday and the weather has been just like the picture all of this time. We have touched up a few rust spots and repainted them. Blacked the other side of the boat that we didn’t do before because it was cold, and applied polish on the coach sides. Also put some grip strip on the bow for safety. Weekend looks fair so we will move again tomorrow to Aynho and I’ll get some washing done on route.